The Most Powerful Club in the World? The Links

When Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his farewell address in January 1961 he warned the country about the potential unwarranted influence of a growing “military-industrial-complex.” We just obtained a copy of the Links Club (the name of the club is technically The Links) by-laws and membership handbook from 1955 and looking through it made us think a lot about Eisenhower’s speech. He had to look no further than the membership roster of the club he was a member of to see almost the entire complex he was speaking about. The concentration of power within the club, which is located in a beautiful townhouse on East 62nd Street in New York City, is stunning.

The Links clubhouse on East 62nd Street in New York

At the end of this newsletter we publish a partial list of members from 1955. The list is enough to set the conspiracy theorists going wild. Let’s see, top leadership of the military, aircraft production, steel, oil, automobiles, pharmaceuticals and finance. No wonder Eisenhower was worried.

Robert Caro has written extensively about Lyndon Johnson and wrote the definitive biography of Robert Moses, the New York urban planner. Caro has repeatedly said that he is fascinated with the study of power and this is what draws him into his exhaustive studies. We are fascinated with The Links, and for the same reason do a deep dive into the handbook, as an interesting study into the elite of the post-war period.

Imagine walking into The Links bar and seeing Bill Boeing, Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle and Lucius Clay bantering back and forth about flying. Or wander into the library and talk investments with Morgan, Stanley, Rockefeller and Witter. Excuse me; The Links is not a place to conduct business, so perhaps you want to talk golf with the President of the U.S.G.A. and the co-founders of Augusta National and Cypress Point. In fact, the current, former and a future U.S.G.A presidents are all on the rolls. Such was (and still is) the power of The Links.


The Links club book from 1955

You don’t bump into many club members these days whose occupation is ‘Explorer’, but The Links Club had one in 1955 with a name that fits the role: C. Suydam Cutting, who explored Tibet in the 1930s. Want to talk politics? You’re in luck with a pair of U.S. Senators, a future Secretary of State, a Governor and a Mayor perhaps having a smoke in the game room. Happen to be an Anglophile? Then discuss Great Britain with the current, former and future U.S. Ambassadors to the Court of St. James’s, all three of whom were members in 1955.

Maybe you think you’ve had too much to drink because you’re seeing stars? No, with all the military brass as members there are scores of stars to be seen. How about both the current Secretary of the Navy and Air Force as well as a future Secretary of Defense? Want to stay up late and tell war stories? At The Links the stories were no doubt real as Ike’s chief of staff was a member as was one of the planners of the Normandy invasion and the architect of the Berlin airlift.

If trust-fund babies are your thing, look around the C.B. Macdonald Room and you might spot heirs to the fortunes of McGraw Hill, Mellon Bank, Sun Oil Company and Marshall Field department stores sipping their cocktails. Perhaps it is no co-incidence that an astounding 24 members of the 1955 Links Club have been on the cover of Time Magazine, since its publisher, Henry Luce is also a member!

Books about The Links are very hard to find and are prized by collectors. This handbook measures only 6 ¼ inches x 5 inches and is 64 pages. The book lists the current Officers, Board of Governors, Constitution and By-Laws, Current Members and Deceased Members. As the Constitution states, its purpose is “..to promote and conserve throughout the United States the best interests and true spirit of the game of golf as embodied in its ancient and honorable traditions, endorsing the rules of the game as it is played in Scotland and as adopted by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews.”

Aside from these rare handbooks, there was an official history of the club, The Links, published in 2004 in a limited edition (Donovan & Jerris D10540). It was published for the members and done by our favorite golf book team of Anthony Edgeworth and John De St. Jorre. The book has a green plastic cover with the gilt links logo, is 57 pages and was issued with a green protective slipcase. Copies rarely come up for sale and when they do they are snapped up. As you would expect, the club history is very discreet about its membership, but there is a picture of David Rockefeller posing in the club.

Click here to see if we have a copy of the difficult to find club history available on Abebooks.

Or click here to see if we have a copy available on Amazon.

A sampling of members in 1955 is listed below:

The Current Commander-in-Chief

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States

Industry

  • Sewell L. Avery, Chairman of Montgomery Ward
  • Stephen D. Bechtel of the engineering and construction company
  • Sosthenes Behn, founder of ITT Corporation
  • Roger M. Blough, President of U.S. Steel Corporation
  • Harold Boeschenstein, Chairman of Owens-Corning
  • Richard L. Bowditch, Chairman U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • H.S.M. Burns, British President of Shell Oil Company
  • Louis S. Cates, Chairman of Phelps Dodge
  • Owen R. Cheatham, Chairman of Georgia Pacific Corporation
  • Colby M. Chester, Chairman of General Foods Corporation
  • Hugh J. Chisholm, President of International Paper
  • George H. Coppers, Chairman of Nabisco
  • Cleo F. Craig, President of A T &T
  • Walter F. Dillingham, “the Baron of Hawaiian Industry”
  • Richard R. Depree, President of Proctor & Gamble
  • Benjamin F. Fairless, CEO of U.S. Steel
  • Henry Ford II, President of the Ford Motor Company
  • J. Peter Grace, Jr., Grace Chemical CEO
  • Augustus C. Long, CEO of Texaco
  • Henry R. Luce, publisher of Time Magazine
  • Joseph H. McConnell, former President of NBC
  • George W. Merck, President of Merck pharmaceuticals
  • Roger Milliken, CEO of Milliken textiles
  • Morehead Patterson, Chairman of AMF
  • G. Willing Pepper, President of the Scott Paper Company
  • Gwilym A. Price, President of Westinghouse
  • Edgar Monsanto Queeny, Chairman of Monsanto Corporation
  • Donald J. Russell, future CEO of Southern Pacific Railroad
  • Sidney A. Swensrud, Chairman Gulf Oil
  • Walter C. Teagle, retired Chairman of Standard Oil
  • Thomas J. Watson, Jr., President of IBM
  • Charles E. Wilson, former President of General Electric

Government and Diplomacy

  • Winthrop W. Aldrich, Ambassador to Great Britain
  • Arthur A. Ballantine, Undersecretary of the Treasury and lawyer
  • Prescott S. Bush, U.S. Senator and father of President Bush (41)
  • Charles E. Daniel, U.S. Senator from South Carolina
  • Thomas E. Dewey, Governor of New York
  • C. Douglas Dillon, U.S. Ambassador to France, Future Secretary of the Treasury
  • Joseph E. Davies, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union
  • Thomas S. Gates, Jr. future U.S. Secretary of Defense
  • Walter S. Gifford, former chairman of A T & T, fomer Ambassador to the U.K.
  • StantonGriffis, U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Egypt, Spain and Argentina
  • Amory Houghton, CEO, Corning Glass Works, future U.S. Congressman
  • George M. Humphrey, Secretary of the Treasury
  • Herbert C. Hoover, Jr. son of the 31st President, Undersecretary of State and a member of the President’s cabinet
  • John A. McCone, future director of the C.I.A.
  • Jean Monnet, diplomat and  founding father of the European Union
  • Winthrop Rockefeller, son of John D. Rockefeller and Governor of Arkansas
  • Sir William Wiseman, British intelligence agent and banker
  • Cyrus R. Vance, future U.S. Secretary of State
  • John Hay Whitney, future U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain

Military

  • Oscar C. Badger, a four star Admiral in the U.S. Navy
  • Ralph A. Bard, undersecretary of the U.S. Navy
  • Dunbar W. Bostwick, Lt. Colonel U.S.Army, helped organize Normandy invasion
  • Lucius D. Clay, U.S. General, Eisenhower deputy and ‘father’ of the Berlin airlift
  • Robert A. Lovett, former U.S. Secretary of Defense
  • Paul Nitze, future Secretary of the Navy
  • Elwood R. Quesada, Lieutenant General, U.S.A.F.
  • Stanley R. Resor, future U.S. Secretary of the Army
  • Kenneth Royall, Army Brigadier General, last person to serve as Secretary of War
  • James Hopkins Smith, Jr., U.S. Secretary of the Navy
  • William Bedell Smith, Eisenhower’s chief of staff in WWII, four star general, former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union and former C.I.A director
  • Harold E. Talbott, Secretary of the Air Force

Finance

  • Norborne Berkeley, President of Chemical Bank
  • Edward Eagle Brown, Chairman of the First National Bank of Chicago
  • Paul C. Cabot, founded State Street Corporation and started the first mutual fund
  • Asa V. Call, President of Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Company
  • George Champion, Chairman, Chase Manhattan Bank
  • J. Luther Cleveland, Chairman of the Guaranty Trust Company
  • S. Sloan Colt, President of the Bankers Trust Company
  • Isaac B. Grainger, President of Chemical Bank and future president U.S.G.A.
  • Benjamin H. Griswold III, Chairman of Alex, Brown
  • E. Roland Harriman, co-founder of Brown Brothers Harriman
  • Devereux C. Josephs, Chairman of the Board New York Life Insurance
  • John J. McCloy, future Chairman, Chase Manhattan Bank, President World Bank
  • Henry S. Morgan, grandson of J.P. Morgan and co-founder of Morgan Stanley
  • Ralph Owen, Chairman of American Express
  • Elmore C. Patterson, future CEO of J.P. Morgan
  • Ralph T. Reed, future CEO of American Express
  • David Rockefeller, future Chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank
  • J. Stillman Rockefeller, President National City Bank
  • Howard C. Sheperd, Chairman of National City Bank
  • Harold Stanley, co-founder of Morgan Stanley
  • Dean Witter, founder of Dean Witter investment firm

Aircraft and Flying

  • William E. Boeing, founder of the Boeing Airplane Company
  • F. Trubee Davison, Famous WWI Naval Aviator
  • James H. Doolittle, U.S. General and famed aviator
  • Robert E. Gross, President of Lockheed Aircraft
  • Frederick B. Rentschler, Chairman of  Pratt & Whitney Aircraft
  • Edward V. Rickenbacker, World War I ace pilot
  • Leon A. Swirbul, founder of Grumman Aircraft

Inherited Wealth

  • Marshall Field, heir to the department store fortune
  • James H. McGraw, Jr. heir to the book publishing company
  • Paul Mellon, heir to the Mellon banking fortune and philanthropist
  • Howard Phipps, heir to the Carnegie Steel partner Henry Phipps, Jr.
  • Joseph N. Pew, heir to Sun Oil fortune, co-founder of the Pew Charitable Trusts
  • J. Watson Webb, film maker and heir to the Vanderbilt fortune

Golf and Other pursuits

  • Morton G. Bogue, former President of the U.S.G.A.
  • C. Suydam Cutting, Explorer
  • Donald K. David, Dean of the HarvardBusinessSchool
  • Arthur H. Dean, Chairman of the law firm Sullivan & Cromwell
  • Childs Frick, Paleontologist and son of Steel magnate Henry Clay Frick
  • Totton P. Heffelfinger, President of the U.S.G.A.
  • Eugene V. Homans. Bobby Jones defeated Homans at Merion to win the grand slam in 1930
  • Roger D. Lapham, Mayor of San Francisco and co-founder of Cypress Point Club
  • Robert Montgomery, actor
  • Alfred Easton Poor, architect
  • Roland L. Redmond, President Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Archie M. Reid, Secretary of the U.S.G.A.
  • Clifford Roberts, co-founder of Augusta National Golf Club

1955 Links Club members who made the cover of Time Magazine:

Charles Wilson

Colby Chester

Cyrus Vance

David Rockefeller

Dwight Eisenhower

Douglas Dillon

Eddie Rickenbacker

George Merck

Gwilym Price

Henry Ford II

Herbert Hoover, Jr.

James Doolittle

John McCloy

Joseph Davies

Joseph Pew

Lucius Clay

Roger Blough

Roger Lapham

Stillman Rockefeller

Thomas Dewey

Thomas Watson

Trubee Davison

Walter Teagle

Winthrop Rockefeller

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About valuablebook

Valuable Book Group specializes in rare, collectible and valuable golf books. We are avid collectors ourselves obsessed not only with playing the game, but also its history and the literature of the game.
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